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Elections Are a Milestone (AKA: What's involved in an open source project election?)

Elections are milestones (AKA What's involved in an open source project election)

The Kata Containers project just had its first Architecture Committee election. At the inception of the project, five people were appointed to get the project off the ground and guide it to its 1.0 release. These people were selected based on their expertise in the project space and familiarity with open source communities (particularly those adjacent to Kata).

A huge thank you to the five members of the original Architecture Committee--Jessie Frazelle, Samuel Ortiz, Tim Allclair, Wei Zhang and Xu Wang--for their work to get Kata to a 1.0 release and set the foundations for this project.

But part of open source is having the community drive decisions, so after the 1.0 release, it was time for our first election! What's involved in developing an open source election process, you ask?

The thought process behind an election, in order:

  1. What's the point of the Architecture Committee? What are their responsibilities?
  2. Given their responsibilities, who should be eligible to run for these seats?
  3. Given their responsibilities, who should have a say in that vote?
  4. Now that we've defined who the electorate is, how do we identify them?
  5. This other community has an open source tool for that; can we use it with some modifications for us?
  6. We modified it; now it's broken. Can we get coffee?
  7. Coffee is fantastic; it's now kind of working but only kind of. Can we ask the authors to help us?
  8. Open collaboration rules; they've helped us*. Make sure to buy them thank you coffee and upstream the work.
  9. With a documented election process (eligible candidates, eligible voters, timeline, candidacy period, debate period, voting period, voting methodology, voting mechanism), notifications are sent to the eligible voters and the election begins!

In the Architecture Committee election, anyone who had made a commit that was merged in the 12 months before the nomination period opened was eligible to vote. Anyone who is involved in the Kata Containers project (through code contribution, advocacy, community development, or otherwise) was welcome to run for the three of five seats that were up for election. (The Architecture Committee seats rotate when they are up for election; in February 2019, the seats currently held by Samuel Ortiz and Xu Wang will be up for election.) We had four community members run, and an electorate of 50 eligible voters.

A hearty congratulations to the newly elected Kata Architecture Committee members:

  • Eric Ernst (egernst)
  • Jon Olson (jon)
  • Wei Zhang (zhangwei555)

This was the first go, and our process will surely evolve as the community and project do. You can see the documentation for Kata Architecture Committee elections, raise new issues in the Community repo to help us improve our process, or borrow it for your own project governance.

Interested in getting involved in Kata's direction? Swing by the discussions on the kata-dev mailing list, or in IRC freenode (#kata-dev) or #kata-dev in the Kata Slack.

*A big thanks to Kendall Nelson and Tony Breeds for their assistance in developing tooling for the Kata Containers electorate body